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Fear of Dentists

"Dentist" (by Terri Heisele)

I should probably count myself lucky to be such a rare visitor at my dentists office. My teeth are usually healthy thanks to my excellent brushing technique. It must be one of the talents I was born with.

Yet, even I am not immune to a certain uneasiness before a visit at the dentists office. It's not so much the fear of pain but a strange suspicion that the state of my teeth somehow mysteriously deteriorated over the last year. And even more so, while laying on the dentists chair, I often find myself wanting to please my dentist.

An urge to be a good patient

Maybe I'm a rare species. Maybe I am a people pleaser. I have no rational explanation for this urge to be a good patient. It might be a leftover from childhood when compliments from a doctor about how well I behaved or how brave I was could light up a day of sickness.

Wherever it may come from, this urge for pleasing is still quite strong. If the dentist tells me to open my mouth wide, I make a big effort to open it as much as I can. If he tells me to rinse, I rinse as good as I can. And at the end of any treatment I long to hear the words "you have done well today". I wonder if it shouldn't be the other way round? Shouldn't the patient tell the doctor how the treatment felt? I rarely if ever do that.

Are Swiss people especially good patients?

Now that I think of, I wonder if this behavior is part of the average Swiss character. We do not like to complain in restaurants about bad food and say it was tasty even if it was only okay. We do not speak up when someone cuts in line because we are afraid they might get offended. We try to be nice and well behaved customers and sometimes forget to demand the good service we deserve.

I know I'm generalizing and there are exceptions I am sure. Yet, even in myself I sometimes discover these traits of character and I am not happy about them. Part of being a serial is that I have experienced many different ways of living. And I honestly think we Swiss should learn to be more outspoken sometimes and less people pleasers. But in the end, nobody is perfect, right?!



  1. Canadian feel the same fear, but without the hesitation of complaining about it. The father of the family I work for is actually a dentist, so I find it strange to not be absolutely petrified of him!


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